Crystal Defenders was released last Wednesday to the XBLA and to me it is a hidden gem.
First off I must say the "300 Maps" touted in the description is total bologna. You have 12 maps with 30 waves of enemies you have to defend off which gives you the illustrious "300 Maps". Believe me though 12 maps is more than enough because to perfect each map expect to spend 2 hours + to get just that right combination of defenders.
This game is a Tower Defense game with characters from the Final Fantasy Tactics series. Each character or upgrade item costs a certain amount of Gil and with each enemy you defeat you get a number of Gil back. Saving money is the key as you get a bonus after clearing the wave depending on the number of crystals you saved from the enemies. Pretty simple. Set up your defenders and defeat the oncoming waves. Simple yet addicting.
After playing the trial I just left it alone but something just dragged me back to play the demo once more and I ended up buying the game. The 3 "chapters" W1, W2, and W3 offer a drastic change in strategy and even character types with W2 adding upgrade crystals as well as a new character to W3 adding even more characters to the mix. Each chapter also has their own special summons [for the price of your precious crystals!] which add another twist to the gameplay.
I only had 1 bone to pick with Square about Crystal Defenders. An Undo button! I found myself preparing for a wave and accidently place an upgrade or defender one block away from where I should have. 1 block away can mean a lot when you are placing an upgrade crystal with 3 or 4 defenders near by.
In all I love the game. The characters are vivid, the maps beautiful and the strategy is extremely high. I can see myself replaying these maps a few times over just to use new characters or to beat my score. If you are a strategy nut this game is for you! At 800 points [$10] that's less than a $1 a map! Give the trial a go and see if it is a game you'd add to your XBLA collection. I'm telling you...it's addicting!
Game played to completion of W1, W2, and half of W3 to "Perfect". [W3 is hard!]
-Dexter "Outinthedark" Thompson-